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FAQs about landscape photography on the Isle of Skye
From when is the best time to visit Skye, to what kit to bring, here for answers to some of the most common queries about shooting landscapes on the Isle of Skye.
You can always contact me to answer any specific questions you have or for more information here...
When is the best time to visit Skye?
This is the million dollar question, and there’s no right or wrong answer, as each season has a charm of its own.
Spring is a great time to visit, with slightly warmer and drier weather than winter, and sunrise and sunset times are more sociable than during the summer.
Summer is the peak season for normal holiday makers, which can be a downside, but the weather is usually the warmest and driest.
Autumn, like spring, is perfect for a photographic trip to Skye as sunrise and sunset are at a reasonable hour.
Winter is an amazing time to visit, just be prepared for the weather! When the sun does appear you'll find that it's low in the sky all day, making it perfect for shooting at almost any time of the day. Also, there are few sights better than the Cuillins covered in snow!
If it’s your first trip to Skye I would suggest either spring (April/May) or autumn (late September to early November), as the island is quieter than the peak holiday season, the light can be stunning and it’s easy to get around the island.
For the more adventurous, and hardy, winter in Skye can offer an unforgettable trip. There won’t be many visitor attractions open (just the basic amenities), the weather can be a little ‘invigorating’, but with a little luck you’ll be rewarded with some photographic opportunities and experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
What photographic kit should I bring?
You don’t need masses of gear to get stunning images, but a DSLR or CSC is a good starting point. A standard zoom will get many great shots, while a wide-angle zoom will help you capture wider vistas, and a longer zoom will allow you to shoot details in the landscape.
I’d recommend using a tripod, especially when shooting at sunrise or sunset. During the tuition you’re more than welcome to borrow one of my tripods if you don’t have one, or aren’t able to carry it as baggage if you are flying.
I would also suggest bringing along filters such as a polariser, ND and ND grads, if you have them. These aren’t essential for landscapes, but they can expand your options and allow you to get effects that otherwise would either be impossible or involve more image manipulation. I do have a good range of filters, including Lee filter holder, ND grads and polarisers (and a range of adapter rings) that you can use during the tuition. This is a great way to have a chance to try these out to see whether you’re a filter user or not!
Along with your main photographic kit, it’s also worth bringing plenty of memory cards, a spare battery and some lens cleaning kit.
What else should I bring?
At any time of year it’s worth packing your best waterproof coat, over-trousers and walking boots. I’d also suggest that you bring a spare coat and over-trousers if you can, as this means you won’t have to wait for your gear to dry out before venturing out.
That's really about it, although you may want to bring along a laptop to download your images, although you could also simply bring a portable hard drive, and download the images using one of my computers.
What about the weather on Skye?
The weather on Skye can be changeable at any time of year, but I find that this is part of the charm of the island. We are located off the north-west coast of Scotland, so the weather usually comes in from the Atlantic. Yes, it rains, can be a bit windy and it can be cold. But being on the west coast means that the snow in the winter isn’t usually as heavy as mainland Scotland, and the temperature is often a few degrees warmer than the highlands. The weather also tends to blow through pretty quickly, and the geography of the island means that you can often find different weather by moving to the other side of the Cuillins or the Trotternish Ridge.
You don’t come to Scotland for the sunshine, but this makes it all the more welcome when it does appear, and when the weather breaks it can actually produce the most amazing light and photographic opportunities. So it pays to be prepared to sit-out the rain when it appears, as this can be one of the most rewarding times to be out in the landscape.
How do I get to Skye?
By far the easiest way to get to the island, and to get around, is by car. There is a bridge connecting the island to the Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland, which is free to cross, so it’s really no more difficult to get to than any other location in Scotland.
Having a car also gives you the freedom to travel when and where you want while you are here.
For the more traditional or ‘romantic’ arrival on the island, you can use one of the ferries that operate from the mainland. The Mallaig to Armadale ferry operated by Calmac runs all year, and details can be found here...
While the Glenelg to Kylerhea ferry operated by a small private company runs between Easter and October, and details can be found here....
If you are flying to Scotland, Skye is around 2 hours drive from Inverness airport, or around 5 hours from Glasgow airport. There are the usual choices for car hire at both airports.
For those wishing to travel by public transport, there is a train service to the Kyle of Localsh, and buses to the island. But once you are on the island buses and public transport isn’t the most convenient way to travel for photographic trips (especially for sunrise and sunset).
How much walking will I have to do?
This is up to you. There are many stunning locations on Skye which are only a few minutes walk from the car, and even a few that can be shot from the roadside. But there are also many that require an hour or two of hill walking to get to.
Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness will be able to get to any of the locations you’ll see in the Skye gallery on my site. I’m more than happy to help give an insight into the type of terrain, fitness and time that it will take to get to any of the locations. Just remember that unlike a normal walk, you may need to carry your camera kit, tripod and also some food and drink with you for the more remote locations. So, be honest about your expectations and realistic about how far you are happy to walk, and I can advise you on the best places to visit.
If you are planning a longer walk, particularly in the hills in the winter (or even spring or autumn) you’ll also need to pay a lot of attention to the weather. It can change very quickly, so a nice simple walk can sometimes become a bit more of a trek if the weather closes in. It’s not the Himalayas, but it’s always worth packing some waterproofs and some provisions, just in case.
Can I bring my partner/wife/husband with me?
Absolutely, the holiday accommodation is perfectly suited to a couple, and the pricing is the same for one or two people. If they are interested in getting out into the landscape, they are also more than welcome to come along on the photographic trips. The only caveat is that I will be first and foremost concerned with you getting the most from the photographic opportunities and tuition, so this won’t suit everyone.
Skye photography tuition